Archives for posts with tag: Wisconsin

Running the slopes after hours | Winona360.

Why do I love journalism so much?  Because I love writing and I love opportunities and I love being able to apply both of these loves towards something that I absolutely love– skiing.  I wanted to tell the story of a ski hill after hours for a while and was shocked when the lovely folks at Mt. La Crosse in La Crosse, Wis., allowed my idea to actually happen.  Check out the story about a ski hill without skiers on and learn to look at your hill differently. (My fabulous Photo J friend Danielle Topka is responsible for the wonderful images that I am completely incapable of capturing!)


Two city blocks in beautiful, majestic, best city in the United States downtown Madison, Wisconsin will play host to several events and rail jams during the Downtown Throwdown February 18 through 20.  A team challenge will take Friday night, in which any recognized shop or team rider can compete in a 2-person team challenge.  A rail jam will take place Saturday and consist of 5 heats of 20 riders with 3 to 4 riders advancing from each heat, followed by semi-finals and finals, aka the Downtown Throwdown will consist of lots of skiing! (and snowboarding).  And to wrap the weekend of shredding up, Sunday there will be a JibCamp with top ams helping out with tricks.  This event is part of Madison’s Winter Festival.

With one hard-snow-packed run totaling less than 300 vertical feet, it’s comical that the crowds gliding down the fake snow have been anticipating this unbecoming day for months.

Unlike the mountains of the west, the ski hills in the Midwest do not turn opening weekend into a front page affair.  Most Midwestern hills make their season debut mid-November with one, hike-only run, covered in icy, man-made snow, and littered with miscellaneous park features, and generally only the loyal park rats make it out for the first few open days.  They come in groups, mostly fitted in trendy tight snow pants, coordinating jackets and oversized goggles or sunglasses.  They lug their skis and poles up the couple dozen vertical feet only to take a quick ride down, hit a few features, and avoid the other rats doing the same thing.

Due to lack of elevation and wintery precipitation, the Midwest early season is not determined by total snowfall, but instead by freezing temperatures.  To manufacture snow, resorts need water and cold weather; snow guns are instantly fired up when these two factors are present.  The guns propel fake flakes onto the brown grassy hills. “Our business is very tied to the weather, we’ve had a few cold stretches during November and we’ve taken advantage of them,” said Don McKay, general manager of south-central Wisconsin’s Tyrol Basin Ski and Snowboard Area.

Colin Droster of Madison, Wis. has been anticipating opening days for about eight years and doesn’t mind the faux snow, “it’s better than nothing, plus who can tell the difference after a (snow cat) has groomed it.”

Tyrol tends to be the first Midwest hill to fill a run with snow and park features.  Although McKay says their target-opening day is always the day after Thanksgiving, Tyrol often opens a hike-only run in late October.  This year they opened for the season Nov. 2, “which is pretty early,” said McKay.  From the first Tuesday in November on, Tyrol has sporadically opened their single run and added a run serviced by chairlift, allowing them to open for the season the Friday after Thanksgiving, “prior to the lift being open it was super crowded,” said Droster.  In regard to Tyrol’s ability to fill a few runs with snow and remain open this year, “I’d say things are a little bit better than on track,” said McKay.

This early season, Tyrol was able to build a jump with an eight-foot gap in addition to setting up the usual rails and boxes, “it was radical, first time that I can recall they had a half decent jump set up this early,” said Droster.

Riders flock to make the first tracks of the season at Tyrol Basin from as far south as Chicago, Ill.   Tyrol’s attendance throughout the first few open weeks is “not record breaking, but pretty busy,” said McKay.


20 tons of imported snow will make its way to the shores of lake Mendota in Madison, Wis on Thursday, November 11, 2010.  The 2nd Annual Terrace Rail Jam will be held on the University of Wisconsin’s Memorial Union Terrace.  Unfortunately’s 10-day outlook predicts similar weather conditions as last year: 52 degrees and rain showers.  However, according to the UW Hoofers, “This event is going to be HUGE! Don’t miss out on incredible riding, free swag, great music, and a taste of how amazing the 2010-11 winter season is going to be!”

The Midwest’s winter ski season has commenced.  Wild Mountain in Taylor’s Falls, Minn. filled a single run top to bottom with snow and a few features!  The hill was open today (10/29/10) from noon-5 p.m. for a decent-sized crowd of ski and snowboard enthusiasts.  Cars began arriving two hours prior to the hill’s opening in anticipation of the season’s first turns.  Snow making at Wild Mountain will not continue tonight but according to their Facebook page they “will be watching, waiting and ready whenever it does get cold.”

Six minutes down the road and across state lines in nearby Dresser, Wis., Trollhaugen also opened one run for the first time this season.  The run held two features and was open  from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Other Minnesota and Wisconsin hills in the area plan to open in mid to late November.

For the third year running, the Midwest Ski Film Festival will take place in Milwaukee, Wis., on Saturday, Oct., 16th.

Boston-born Brian Landgran, founder and director of MWSFF, grew up skiing amongst a “very active ‘Newschool’ community,” in New England.  At age 16, Landgran moved to Milwaukee, Wis., where he said he “decided to make the best of the move and become as involved in the Midwest Ski Community as (he) could.”  Since then, Landgran has relocated to SLC and joined Inspired Media Concepts, with Tanner Hall, Eric Iberg and Josh Finbow.

This year’s MWSFF will be held at the Times Cinema.  “The films will be shown at an actual movie theatre. The Times has really comfortable chairs, a projection room (no duct tape this year!), and they also have a bar,” said Landgran.  Films showing this year are: Eye Trip, Like a Lion and Gunnie Season.

According to Landgran, who admits he’s leaned a lot since year, this year’s festival will run on a more organized schedule, “to ensure everyone gets the full experience of MWSFF.”  There will also be an after party hosted by Red Bull for those 18+ where Poor Boyz Production’s Revolver will show.  Afterward, Hathbanger and Daywalker will spin ‘til bar close.

Athletes Tom Wallisch, Matt Walker, Mike Hornbeck, Nick Martini, Wiley Miller, Hathbanger. Kyle Decker & Freedle Coty from Level 1 Productions will be in attendance, as well as Pete Drago director of Jiberish Clothing.

“This past year has been a dream for me, I get to work close with my idols, and give back to the Midwest Ski Community like never before,” said Landgran.

Pre-ordering tickets is recommended for $15, door price is $20.

I asked Brian Landgran how he chose the films showing at this year’s MWSFF, I think he phrases it best…

“This is one of the toughest parts about running the festival. With so many great ski movies to choose from it is quite a difficult decision to narrow it down to 5 movies. This year a lot of people contacted me about showing their movies, and I would love to say yes to everyone but I also have to think about what is going to make kids the most stoked. This year I choose Eye Trip first as I had the opportunity to travel along with the Level 1 crew as they filmed around the Midwest… there are some shots from down the street from the venue (for MWSFF) so it was a no brainer. I chose Like a Lion because its a project that I was able to watch behind the scenes, I think the story is a great one no matter what your opinion is of Tanner, I am sure people will enjoy the film. I have known the 4bi9 crew since the beginning, and it’s a great time watching their movies evolve each year, so Gunnie Season was a no brainer. This year I had the chance to get out to IF3 which helped me choose to show Stept ProductionsNetwork, one of the best “Am” movies I have ever seen. Last but not least I choose to show Poor Boyz’ Revolver because of the sheer level of skiing in it. Some of the best skiing I have ever seen is in that movie.”

The sequel to Parimaj Media’s NiceToo Nice—will also be showing at this year’s festival.  “I feel this gang produces some of the highest quality skiing content from the Upper Midwest. Too Nice features amazing skiing from Minnesota and Wisconsin, and I think everyone will surely be stoked on it,” said Landgran.


The time has come; fall semester at Winona State University commences at the end of this week. FINALLY!  Although this blog was being done as an ongoing project, I grew to love it.  I was writing about something I enjoyed and I was able to immerse myself in the news of this sport and all this counted as “school work.”  And though this is end of the assignment, it may not be the end of posts from me.  So as I take a break from this blog, KEEP REPPIN’ THE MIDWEST AND LIVIN’ IT UP!

YES!  That actually happened amidst the tropical weather that’s going on in Wisconsin.  Dedicated skiers and snowboarders that have been anticipating the start of the 2009-2010 season finally got their fix.  Tyrol plans to have enough snow made by next weekend to open a lift.

The time has come; ski season in the Midwest is upon us!  Tyrol Basin in Mt Horeb, Wis., has opened!  The hill opened a box and rail-filled hike only trail with a six to twelve inch base.  For the time being, the run is only open this weekend from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.  However, as temps continue to drop more runs will have snow.

Freeskier magazine has posted the finalist videos for the annual Salomon Backyard Jib contest.  The setups and skills these skiers whip out further proves that massive elevations aren’t necessary for honing the park skillZ.  In some cases snow isn’t even needed… which just so happens to suit the Midwest perfectly at this time!  Check out the four finalists on